Friday, February 29, 2008
How's That for Balance
This guy has to be one of the most balanced bakers in the world. The oldies saw him at Khan el-Khalili, the oldest market in Cairo. Mum really loves markets and she quickly got used to the way Egyptian shopkeepers hassle tourists. She turned into an expert haggler and brought back some real bargains for her friends and her favourite small bear. Anyway, this baker was taking a fresh batch of bread (buns and rolls, both great bear-food by the way) from his shop to a resserterrornt (I still can't spell restaurant). No pushcart for this fellow, just bung them all onto a big tray and balance it on his head. He moved quickly through the market, dodging people, cars, trucks, donkeys and policeman and he never dropped a single bun! I think he must have a very pointy head and the tray must have a big dent in it to fit over the point. After all, not even clever small bears could do this.
Bear in a Box
No doubt about it, zoo animals have it easy. I mean, just look at this Sunbear. He lives at the National Zoo in Canberra and he has everything a bear could want. Not just the obvious things like three meals a day and a big enclosure to live in. He has this great glass box up on a pole, his own sunroom where he can laze away in the warmth anytime he likes. He has this great climbing frame to play on as well. I was so impressed by his enclosure that I climbed over the fence and was well on my way over to visit him when the inevitable happened. That's right, Mum grabbed me again and read the riot act, the section about crossing safety fences. She says that the big bear would probably damage me, but I think he looks too cute and lazy to be much of a problem for me. After all, I have been taught how to run by the Flash!
My Hero, the Police Bear
I met another one of my heroes at the Canberra Show. Here I am with him, Constable Kenny Koala. Kenny does a lot of work on the TV teaching kids about safety and road rules and important things like that. He looks a bit different to what he does on TV and I am a bit confused by the bright lipstick and the way he snuggles up over the arm of the policeman who looks after him. He is actually very friendly and spent lots of time talking to all the kids who visited his stand and he let some of them get their photo taken with him as well. Maybe I can be a TV star if the sniffer-bear thing doesn't work out.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Infected by a Sniffer-pup
Ever since I started watching "Border Security" on the TV I have wanted to be a sniffer-bear. I think it is a bit mean that only dogs get this great job. Anyhow, at the Canberra Show I met this cute little pup that is in training to be a sniffer-dog for Customs. He seemed to be spending most of his time asleep, but when I asked the Customs lady to let me pat him he woke up. In fact he woke up really quickly and wanted to play. Unfortunately, puppies play by biting a lot and he got me on the face and the arm before I got away. It didn't hurt me at all. But now I have sniffer-dog DNA in me. If I can keep it there I may turn into a sniffer-bear; after all, people that get bitten by vampires turn into vampires. This will be hard though because Mum has noticed that I am a bit soggy with puppy-drool and wants me to take a bath! I hear her coming, so I've gotta run and hide. More tomorrow.
Bart; Big Shot
We went to the Royal Canberra Show today. Mum always goes there to see the cows (did I mention that Mum has this thing about cows?). Dad goes along to carry me and all the interesting things that sometimes get bought. I go along because there are lots of fascinating things to see and try out. This year the absolute best thing was this big field gun that the army people let me climb over and try the handles and things on. You can move the barrel up, down and across by spinning little wheels. The only hard part for small bears is loading the gun. The shells are bigger and much heavier than me. This would be the ultimate crab-buster. With this gun I could pick off crabs 11 kilometers away. If I could see the little pests at that distance, that is. I would need binoculars, and Dad to load the heavy shells into the gun for me. There was one moment when the oldies and my army friends got a bit excited. I climbed up the barrel and took a look down to see what it looked like inside. Evidently this is a no-no because Mum had me out of there like a shot (actually, I didn't intend to make that pun but it's not bad is it?).
Click on the pictures to make them bigger.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
A Different Sort of Lighthouse
There are some places that are dangerous to ships but don't have anywhere that a lighthouse can be built on. These places have special floating lighthouses, called lightships, anchored near them. This one is retired now and is in the Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour in Sydney. For most of its working life it was anchored at Merkara shoals in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It spent a couple of years in the Bass Straight oilfields as well. In the photo you can also see the submarine HMAS Onslow and the destroyer HMAS Vampire. My really big brother Andrew spent some time on Vampire when he was in the navy. Next time we go to Sydney I want to go through all of these ships.
Now Here's Some Big Stones
Here's my globe-tottering oldies at a place called Stonehenge in England. This is a place they are interested in because it is one of the oldest astronomical calculators in the world, and both my oldies are astronomers. Stonehenge was build about 4000 years ago, around about the time the Egyptians stopped building pyramids. The stones are set out in patterns that show things like solstices and equinoxes, and can even predict eclipses. Great stuff for the ancient British astronomers who only had years of eyeball observations to work from. They were pretty good engineers as well. Imagine moving those heavy stone blocks cross-country from the quarries to the site and then putting them together in exactly the right spots. Our ancestors were really clever people.
My Stoned Dad
We have had a busy and worrying week. Dad had to go into hospital and Mum and I had to do all of our work and Dad's as well. He got really bad pains in his left side and Mum drove him over to Calvary hospital and had to leave him there. The doctors X-rayed him and CAT scanned him (and Dad says that has nothing to do with cats; I always wondered about that). They found a big kidney stone was trying to move down and out and was getting stuck. It was actually damaging his kidney so they had to operate. Small bears don't really understand these things so well because we are short on kidneys and other internal organs. I guess we are lucky. Anyhow, Dad is home again for a while. He has this great big bit of plastic tube called a "stent" inside him to help drain his kidney and when he goes back into hospital to get that taken out the stone will come out as well. I hadn't been to a hospital before. Actually they are fun places for small bears. There are lots of interesting things to climb on and things with buttons and switches that nobody is allowed to touch except the nurses. I wanted to play with the controls for the bed. It looked like if I pressed the right buttons I could fold Dad up in it like a bug in a rug but the nurse wouldn't let me. Dad was hooked up to a big bag of liquid that dribbled into his arm. He let me have a go at it but actually it wasn't much fun. The fun thing is that everybody who visits brings interesting things like chocolates. Dad let me have a go at them too. They are lots more fun than drips.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
A High-Flying Train
Every time we go to Sydney we ride this great train. It is a monorail and goes in a loop from where we stay at Darling Harbour right into the centre of Sydney. I really like it because it has these nifty little luggage racks behind the seats that are just the right size for a small bear to sit in and see everything out the windows. As it crosses the bridge you can see everything in the bay. The middle picture has two of my favourite places in it; Wildlife World and the Aquarium. You can see some of my friends from these places in earlier posts. The bottom picture has lots of boats moored at the Maritime Museum. I haven't been there yet because the oldies left me in the hotel room the day they visited it. Next time I am going to make a fuss until they take me to see the destroyer, the submarine and the old square-rigger. After all, ships are one of my special interests and there have been some famous ships where small bears were mascot.
Here's Another Pointy Thing
It seems like every big city wanted an Egyptian obelisk back in the 19th century, and Mehmet (or Muhammed) Ali, the king of Egypt was making a packet selling them off. I've already told you about the swap where the French got the better end of the deal. Anyhow, there is one in London as well and this one Mehmet Ali sold to the Brits for 10,000 pounds which was a lot of money back then. The oldies found this one on the Victoria Embankment of the Thames, just opposite the London Eye. It is called "Cleopatra's Needle" but Mum assures me that it had nothing to do with Cleopatra. Neither does the one like it in Washington. They were made around 1450 BC in the big quarry at Aswan. Dad says that that is the hottest place he has ever been. They were first set up at Heliopolis near Cairo and later on the Romans moved them to Alexandria. This one was towed to England in a specially-designed boat in 1877. The boat capsized on the way back and lots of salvage money had to be paid before the obelisk reached England. When you travel, keep an eye on all the monuments you pass. It is amazing how many of them are copies (usually a lot smaller) of Egyptian obelisks.